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A troublemaker (from Latin queri - "to complain in court") was originally referred to in the jurisprudence as a person who, despite the low chance of success, led a legal battle particularly steadfastly and tenaciously. A minor or supposed reason is hardly in an appropriate relationship to the opinionated, suspicious, fanatical and unteachable approach of the so-called people.

Use of terms

People who repeatedly submit unsubstantiated applications to the authorities or to court are also referred to as troublemakers. The term was later taken up by psychiatry and described either as a separate, delusional , often paranoid clinical picture, as a personality disorder or as an accompanying symptom of other mental disorders . The use of the term is problematic from a legal point of view, as the process capability is in question if such a disruption occurs . In this way, a person concerned can be effectively prevented from the improper use of lawsuits and legal remedies , but also from the enforcement of actual rights. There is no legal definition of the troublemaker, which is why abusive or incorrect uses of the term are also discussed.

In the era of National Socialism people were wanted erstreiten the deviating before authorities or courts of Nazi ideology goals, also as a whiner or troublemaker called and then in protective custody taken later in labor and concentration camps spent.

Education Linguistically pejoratively referred complainer someone who unnecessarily complains while stubbornly insisting on its supposed partly right. The quality of such a person is called troubled .

Concept history

The psychiatrist Gerhard Möllhoff discussed in detail the troublesome and psychogenic delusions under medical-historical , psychodynamic and psychiatric aspects, also with a view to questions of expert opinion. He already encountered the term troublemaker in Roman and Norman law. This is where it has its origin and has also already developed in a special way. Queror de injuriis was distinguished early on as quaerimonia (expression of pain about actually suffered injustice and suffering) from querela (affected by alleged injustice suffered). Querula criminalis levis sive gravis and querulia possessionis referred to criminal and civil law charges and motions that could also reach the higher courts as appeals (querela de protracta institutia) if legal errors of the lower instances were criticized. Querulus has been the nagging and whining applicant since the Middle Ages, who objectively harass authorities and courts for no reason. Heinrich von Kleist impressively conveyed the fate of a “troublemaker” in the form of the businessman Hans Kohlhase in his novel Michael Kohlhaas .

“Those parties who do not submit to the prescribed order, but either harass Collegia and their superiors with apparently baseless and illegal complaints against better science and conviction; or after they have been told to be due to their injustice, nevertheless continue with their complaints, (...) should be regarded as wanton or malicious complainers, brought to trial, and their punishment should be legally recognized. "

- Section 30 of the General Court Regulations for the Prussian States of July 6, 1793

There is still no binding legal definition of a (legal) troublemaker. Orientation is only provided by legal comments such as the commentary on the civil procedure code of Baumbach , Lauterbach , Albers and Hartmann , which describes typical quarrelsome behavior and its consequences and establishes soft criteria in which a judge can ignore senseless inputs "after prior objective assessment and warning Files ". However, respect for the right to be heard is still required in the case of "innocently unobjective presentations" . In the same legal commentary, the lawyer and criminologist Joachim Hellmer is quoted, who in 1980 pleaded for the term “querulance” to be deleted from the expert's vocabulary. Querulanz is "neither a mental illness nor a condition affecting business, process or responsibility, but stubborn criticism and fearless contradiction against any circumstances or grievances, mostly particularly intelligent and sensitive people, certainly often excessive and escalating to excess".

Troubled times in psychiatry

Classification according to ICD-10
F22.8 Other persistent delusional disorders / paranoia querulans
F60.0 Paranoid personality disorder, type querulatory personality disorder
ICD-10 online (WHO version 2019)

The first description of people as "insane people out of righteousness" came in the middle of the 18th century by the forensic doctor Johann Ludwig Casper . Later, the psychiatrists Emil Kraepelin and Eduard Hitzig specified in the Kraepelin – Hitzig thesis that querulance was an illness, initially under the umbrella term of paranoia . At the beginning of the 20th century, Kraepelin then made a distinction between real querulance as a symptom of a psychosis and pseudo- querulance as part of certain psychopathies . Carl Wernicke, on the other hand, assumed that querulance was a clearly delineated, delusional disease of his own , while Kurt Kolle denied a delusional derivation.

The medical-psychiatric classification systems ICD-10 and DSM-IV still differentiate today between the delusional delusion and the delusional personality disorder , each as a subordinate expression of other disorders. Both disorder patterns have in common an opinionated, unteachable, fanatical behavior in people who have a sensitive, easily injured disposition. Epidemiological data and statistics on querulatory behavior are hardly available, and such diagnoses are now considered very rare. The knowledge about troublemakers is therefore mainly based on case descriptions.

Querulatory personality disorder

The criterion for diagnosing a querulous personality disorder as a manifestation of the paranoid personality disorder is the increasing suffering of the environment from the recklessness of the person concerned. Beginning with a typically trivial dispute, an extensive fight ensues that soon moves away from the original cause and from the search for a concrete solution, such as realistic financial compensation. There are further lawsuits and complaints, counterclaims, extensive correspondence and also insults. In the struggle for “the right in itself”, an understanding of justice that is partially or wholly decoupled from the prevailing understanding develops and that is to be doggedly enforced.

Querulatory madness

The borderline to the querulous madness is shown by the completely lacking possibility of the person concerned to harbor a "doubt about the legality of his own position and his own behavior". To a large extent, he assumes hostile, reprehensible motives to his environment and is convinced of conspiracies to his disadvantage. A solution from the original opponent or perpetrator, combined with the expansion of the dispute to all who hinder the troublemaker in his struggle for justice, or even to society as a whole, is a typical development, as is the insistence on disproportionate to absurd sanctions and Legal consequences. If the entire living conditions are geared towards the "struggle for justice", those affected can lose their social and family environment.

Querulance as a syndrome

More recent publications attribute querulance less often to a diagnosis of its own, but rather describe it as a syndrome that can occur in different ways in different psychiatric disorders. Detlef E. Dietrich and Bastian Claassen (2012) recommend considering querulatory behavior as a spectrum with a smooth transition "from the healthy to the patient with pronounced delusion", whereby the diagnostic coding options should be used as anchoring for pathological conditions. In order to locate between a more delusional or a paranoid personality disorder, other symptoms and the life story of a patient would have to be considered. The Swiss psychiatrist Franz Caduff also regards troublemaking as a behavioral characteristic between “a sensitive search for law, pathological, life-defining righteousness and psychotic madness”. What is called querulous, not only differs from culture to culture, but also changes over time within a society. So he found that the troubled mind has almost disappeared from clinical-psychiatric interest since the 1960s. He also suspects the earlier, derogatory use of the term as the reason for the declining diagnosis, which is therefore no longer used today even with clearly querulous behavior.

Treatment and prevention

Affected people rarely experience themselves in need of treatment in their struggle for justice; rather, suffering relatives or a request for assessment lead to contact with a psychiatrist , psychologist or psychotherapist . The literature offers neither great hope nor diverse approaches for the successful treatment of querulatory disorders. Typical symptoms can be treated with atypical neuroleptics , which also have a mood-stabilizing effect. Questioning the patient's striving for justice in the context of psychotherapy is not recommended, as is discussions about individual claims and complaints. Rather, he should be taken seriously in his endeavors to save face, personal rehabilitation and recognition, whereby extrajudicial ways should be developed with him. Working out the hardships that he expects himself and his relatives to face can also be productive.

Approaches to the prevention of a querulous development result from the consideration of the triggering experiences of injustice as social factors: Purely formal, bureaucratic and incomprehensible reactions of authorities and other institutions to complaints and concerns can trigger and promote the development and escalation of querulous behavior. On the other hand, generally understandable, understanding texts that address individual cases and alternative solutions help to avoid such undesirable developments, even in negative notices .

Abnormalities in written statements

In the representation of their demands right querulous produce an average of more frequent and longer pleadings to which they attach considerable scope sometimes unusual, non-relevant systems. Expression, formatting , footnotes , various highlighting through color, capital letters, multiple underlinings or text markings, noticeable repetitions of characters ("???") or the peculiar use of technical terms often take on strange features.

Use of the term in the Third Reich

In a judgment of March 21, 2007, the Frankfurt am Main Administrative Court spoke to a plaintiff claims for compensation within the meaning of the “Guidelines of Hess. State government on hardship payments to victims of National Socialist injustice ”. Because according to § 1 letter e) of the guidelines are people who because of their way of life or living conditions were treated as disruptive to the community - in the sense of Nazi ideology (e.g. "troublemakers", "work shy", "homeless") and as such were harmed to be recognized as beneficiaries.

Legal significance in Germany

A diagnosed troublemaker delusion can lead to the limitation of the culpability in the criminal sense.

Process capability in one process

The Hessian Administrative Court in Kassel ruled in 1967 that a troublemaker may be partially incapable of litigation and that this incapacity can exceptionally be determined by the court without consulting a psychiatrist . On the other hand, troublemakers certainly contribute to improving the legal system. For example, it is estimated that 80% of supreme court decisions are made by troublemakers.

Nonetheless, those affected by the crazed troublemaker must not least be protected from themselves, because they are in a state of pathological disruption of mental activity that affects free will formation ( Section 104 No. 2 BGB ), so that from now on they only complain and sue with a supervisor can be. In principle, however, every person is to be regarded as capable of litigation. Anyone who has been sued by a troublemaker in civil proceedings must present facts to the court that cast doubt on the legal suitability. The court has to examine the process capability ex officio according to § 56 ZPO . However, it is based on the process capability until concerns are raised (no official investigation). Since the official examination has to take place independently of the complaint by a party, the court can, if there are any indications, also on its own initiative point out concerns about the litigation capability of one of the parties and collect evidence. If, after exhaustion of all available sources of knowledge, the court has doubts as to whether a party is to be regarded as capable of taking legal action , for example if the party concerned refuses to assess their mental state , the presumption of legal capacity turns into its opposite: the person concerned is to be regarded as incapable of legal proceedings and the action as to be rejected inadmissibly. However, the court must first hear the affected party, point out the consequences of not being able to attend and the possibility of appointing a supervisor.

Designation as a "troublemaker" as a reason for rejection

The designation of a party to the litigation as a "troublemaker" by a judge is a linguistic lapse, which justifies a rejection of the judge ( § 42 ZPO) because of bias if he does not correct himself immediately and does not apologize to the so named party.

More and similar terms


  • Erhard Blankenburg: The troublemaker as a social construction. In: Empirical legal sociology = GS for Wolfgang Kaupen, 2002, 203–212.
  • Detlef E. Dietrich, Bastian Claassen: Querulantenwahn. In: Petra Garlipp, Horst Halthof (ed.): Rare delusional disorders. Psychopathology - Diagnostics - Therapy , Springer DE , 2010, ISBN 978-3-7985-1877-3 .
  • Heinz Dietrich: Troublemakers , Stuttgart 1973.
  • Andrea Dinger / Barbara Stein / Uwe Koch: “Querulanz” from the point of view of professional groups in the justice system. In: Law & Psychiatrie 4/87, pp. 126-133.
  • Andrea Dinger / Uwe Koch: Querulanz in the court and administration , Munich 1991.
  • Rupert Gaderer: Troubled people. Sketch of an excessive sense of justice. Textem, Hamburg 2012 (=  small atlas of moods in individual volumes. Ed. By Jan-Frederik Bandel, Nora Sdun. Vol. 7 - Q ), ISBN 978-3-941613-86-7 .
  • Johannes Groschupf: capital of the troublemakers
  • Joachim Hellmer: Report as a weapon against "troublemakers" , Süddeutsche Zeitung 16./17. August 1980, p. 9.
  • Joachim Hellmer: The psychiatric Kohlhaas. A contribution to "Querulantologie". In: Medical Law - Psychopathology - Forensic Medicine = FS for Güter Schewe, 1991, 196–205.
  • Wolfgang Kaupen: Are troublemakers insane? In: Zeitschrift für Rechtsssoziologie (1982), pp. 171–179.
  • Sebastian Lube: The process ability of a troublemaker in the process. In: MDR 2009, p. 63 ff.
  • Norbert Nedopil : Troublemakers' capacity for guilt and litigation. In: Forensia , pp. 185-195 (1985).
  • Karl Peters: Reaction and Interplay. On the problem of the term “troublemaker” from a criminal procedural point of view. In: Recht und Rechtsbesinnung , GS for Günther Küchenhoff, 1987, 457–469.
  • Julius Raecke : Der Querulantenwahn: A contribution to social psychiatry, newly published and increased by a foreword Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger , a scientific introduction by Henning Saß and biogr. Notes on Julius Raecke and his work by Stefan von Finckenstein, extended new edition (first edition from 1926), ISBN 978-3-934882-26-3 , Berlin 2013.
  • Karin Rausch: Why do 'troublemakers' conduct their trials? In: Zs. For legal sociology (1982), pp. 163–170.

Web links

Wiktionary: Querulant  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Troublemaker. In: , accessed on June 3, 2013.
  2. ^ Gerhard Möllhoff: Troublemakers - Notes on an inexhaustible topic in forensic psychiatry. In: Hans Binder: Power and powerlessness of superstition. Verlag Hohe Warte von Bebenburg, Pähl 1992, ISBN 3-88202-343-0 , pp. 182-199.
  3. Quoted from Hanno Kühnert: Querulanten: Ein Phantombild. In: Die Zeit , No. 3, January 11, 1991, p. 36.
  4. Joachim Hellmer: Expert opinion as a weapon against troublemakers. In: Süddeutsche Zeitung , August 16, 1980.
  5. a b c d e f Detlef E. Dietrich, Bastian Claassen: Querulantenwahn . In: Petra Garlipp, Horst Halthof (ed.): Rare delusional disorders. Psychopathology - Diagnostics - Therapy , Springer, 2010, pp. 133-139.
  6. Quotation in Dittrich / Claassen with reference to Rainer Tölle, Klaus Windgassen, Reinhart Lempp: Psychiatrie: including psychotherapy , Springer, Berlin / Heidelberg / New York 2006, ISBN 3-540-25512-5 .
  7. a b F. Caduff: Querulanz - a disappearing psychopathological behavior pattern? In: Advances in Neurology · Psychiatry. 63, edition 12, 1995, DOI: 10.1055 / s-2007-1000673 , pp. 504-510
  8. ^ Rainer Tölle, Klaus Windgassen, Reinhart Lempp: Psychiatrie: including Psychotherapie , 2006, p. 188.
  9. Studies by G. Lester and B. Wilson, L. Griffin, PE Mullen: Unsusal persistent complainants. In: The British Journal of Psychiatry (2004) 184, pp. 352-356 ( online , accessed June 3, 2013).
  10. [7 E 816/06 (3) VG Frankfurt am Main, judgment of March 21, 2007], Az. 7 E 816/06 (3), full text.
  11. State Gazette for the State of Hesse of December 8, 2003, No. 49, p. 4898 f.
  12. ^ BGH, decision of February 20, 2009, Az. 5 StR 555/08, full text = NStZ 2009, 383.
  13. ^ VGH Kassel, decision of June 1, 1967, Az. V OE 13/67, full text .
  14. Anette Schneider, The Troublemaker. In: Deutschlandradio , August 25, 2004.
  15. Cf. on the prerequisites Knothe, in Staudinger, BGB, § 104 Rn. 8th.
  16. ^ Weth, in Musielak, ZPO, § 56 Rn. 6th
  17. BGH, judgment of February 4, 1969, Az. VI ZR 215/67, full text = NJW  1969, 1574 f.
  18. BGH, judgment of May 4, 2004, Az.XI ZR 41/03, full text = NJW-RR 2005, 23 f.
  19. Lube, MDR 2009, 63, 64; BGH, judgment of November 4, 1999, Az. III ZR 306/98, full text = NJW 2000, 289 f.
  20. BGH, judgment of December 6, 2013, Az. V ZR 8/13, full text .
  21. OLG Frankfurt am Main, decision of August 13, 2002, Az. 1 W 23/01, full text .